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The Influence of Cognitive Impairment on Health Behaviors among Older Adults

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Objectives: Previous research on cognitive impairment and health behaviors has focused largely on how health behaviors affect cognition; rarely has it examined whether cognitive impairment affects health behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of cognitive impairment on engagement in health behaviors among older adults. Methods: The study sample included 19,644 adults aged 50 or older from the Health and Retirement Study 1995-2012 surveys. We used mixed-effects logistic regression to analyze the influence of cognitive impairment, measured using the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status, on the engagement of health behaviors including physical activity, smoking, and drinking. Results: Cognitive impairment without dementia [CIND] (OR = .84, 95% CI = .80-.89) and dementia (OR = .68, 95% CI = .61-.75) were associated with a lower likelihood of engaging in regular vigorous physical activity during longitudinal follow-up, after adjusting for covariates. CIND or dementia was not significantly associated with the likelihood of smoking or alcohol consumption. Conclusions: CIND and dementia are risk factors for physical inactivity among older adults. Promotion of regular physical activity should be an essential component of health promotion programs for persons with cognitive impairment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO., Email: [email protected] 2: Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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